by | Sep 24, 2019

Friendlier communications can make the process easier for employees

Ask employees what’s important to them in a job, and they tend to mention benefits right after salary. So why is it so hard to get employees to pay attention to open enrollment?

Partly, it’s because the open enrollment guides are a chore to get through. Most guides include pages and pages of dense copy studded with lots of legalese and HR-speak, like qualifying event or evidence of insurability. For visual relief, there will occasionally be a chart of numbers.

Of course you can’t delete all that stuff. But you can help guide employees through it swamp of required reading with better design, conversational language and some helpful callouts here and there.

Start with better design. There’s no substitute for a talented designer. Give the designer the flexibility of spreading all that copy across a larger number of pages so there’s room for visuals. If your open enrollment guide lives online on your intranet, more pages isn’t such a difficult change. If you’re concerned with printing costs, consider printing a shorter summary of the guide and posting the unabridged document online.

Make it visual: Employees will have an easier time getting through the guide if it’s not all type. Develop some sort of visual theme that provides a reason for original or stock photography, illustration or, at the very least, icons. For one client, we used colorful stock illustrations of all sorts of emoji faces with a range of expressions and sometimes props, like glasses or cat ears. For another, we used a tropical theme with pineapples that suited their geographic location. (You wouldn’t believe how many stock photos of pineapples are out there: people with pineapples on their heads, people floating on pineapple-shaped pool floats, dogs wearing pineapple glasses.) For yet another client with a no-nonsense culture, we were able to help employees understand the guide more easily with clean design, bold color oversized icons and simple To Do lists of required actions.

Make it more colorful: Widen your color palette beyond your one or two primary brand colors. More color choice can help create a more appealing open enrollment guide, but it also can help employees figure out what’s where by separating different sections by color.

Use more human language. Just because you’ve got to have all those insurance terms and dense legal language doesn’t mean you can’t add some more casual conversational bits here and there. Try to insert comments that are what you would actually say to a co-worker, if you were having a conversation about open enrollment choices. Try to speak person to person instead of corporation to employee. For more on simplifying and humanizing the process, try this Best Practices one-pager.

Add boxed comments or callouts: Sort of like dropping bread crumbs for Hansel and Gretel, you can help guide employees through the forest of open enrollment by breaking the monotony with friendly and sometimes witty callouts. If there’s an important point that they might miss if they just skim the copy, add a short sentence regarding that in a box that’s more likely to get their attention. (Example: The Urgent Care copay has been lowered to $25.) If you’ve got a spread that’s entirely filled with charts, maybe give employees a wink with a callout that reads If you like charts, you’ll love this page. In a dense section on vision care, you might include a callout that explains a second pair of glasses is covered at half price, in case you want to keep a spare handy, and maybe another callout that’s just for fun. (Example: An emoji with an eyepatch and the sentence Warning: Monocles may not be covered.)

Having an entire campaign of open enrollment communications is important as well. Let them know open enrollment is coming, let them know what’s changing about their benefits and remind them of the deadlines to do what they need to do. Communicate all that in as many channels as you can, from digital signage and floor decals to the intranet and town halls.

Want to make your open enrollment communications more employee-friendly? Tribe can help.

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